A Winters Tale: A compromising position

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Compromise can be difficult to reach, but oftentimes it’s the best solution.

It is defined as an agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions.

History is filled with important compromises, not the least of which took place in 1787.

The so-called Great Compromise set up the dual system of Congressional representation we have today.

It mandated that the number of House Members be proportional to a state’s population, while fixing the number of Senators at two per state.

This compromise between the big and small states in the writing of our Constitution wasn’t easy to reach, (and it passed by just one vote), but it helped forge a great nation.

Though it pales in comparison to the work of our founding fathers, a great compromise was reached over the summer here in Winters.

It is  the ballot measure known as Measure A, to be voted upon Nov. 3.

It’s not the same Keep Winters Winters Initiative, nor was it part of the future as envisioned by the City Council.

Rather, like my half electric, half gas Toyota Highlander, it’s a hybrid.

And it would not have been created had both sides not made concessions.

The supporters of the original measure had one thing in mind–giving voters the final say in any development outside City Limits, including land in the so-called Sphere of Influence.

The City had maintained that the Sphere was integral to its plans for the future.  

And to be fair, plenty of ordinary citizens also felt that the Sphere should in fact be subject to development, as indicated in our current General Plan.

With the Council painfully silent on the matter, believing the Brown Act forbade them from talking, KWW gathered more than enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, a remarkable feat during the early days of the lockdown.

When the City Attorney advised the Council that it could not place the matter before voters until 2022, citizens who signed the petitions, and paid for the campaign, were furious.  

Two hundred people attended the now legendary firehouse meeting.

The Council was confronted, listened, then argued its position, and things got a little tense.

But in the end, Mayor Wade Cowan made the move which broke the stalemate.

KWW agreed to meet with the Mayor and Councilman Neu seeking a compromise, in exchange for allowing voters to vote this year.

After three meetings the settlement was reached, a more comprehensive, jointly sponsored Initiative, which was approved unanimously for the ballot by the entire Council.

It will cost the voters nothing, except that some of them are in for a few years of hard work.

That’s because, if passed, a panel of community members will team up with two Council Members and two members of the Planning Commission to devise a Specific Plan for the entire North Area.

Recall that barely two years ago the former City Manager suggested to the current landowner (a Fresno developer) that he should submit a Specific Plan for the area, a little like asking the wolf to design the chicken coop.

Measure A makes the community largely responsible for the size and scope of future subdivisions, a daunting task. 

And once complete, nothing happens unless a majority of voters approve the Plan at a future election.

And then, much to the relief of KWW’s critics, the City Limit line will be moved to include the Sphere of Influence.

Compromise is an important part of everyday life.  It’s a difficult art to master, but most of the time, it’s well worth the sacrifice.

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